UM Ambassadors Lecture Series Brought Attention To Malaysia-Korea Win-Win Partnership

Last update: 09/05/2014

By Azzah Mohamad Som

KUALA LUMPUR, May 8 (Bernama) -- Malaysia and South Korea are working on the "second wave" of the Look East Policy (LEP) for another 30 years, focusing mainly on high-technology and high-value areas, says South Korean Ambassador Cho Byungjae said.

"If we can say that the first phase of our LEP is more focused on our training and human resource development, this time we can say that the second wave is more focused on trade and industrial cooperation, particularly in green technology, information and communications technology, as well as, biotechology," he said.

The ambassador to Malaysia was responding to questions posed during a question-and-answer session at the Ambassadors Lecture Series, themed "Malaysia-Korea Win-Win Partnership", organised by Universiti Malaya Asia-Europe Institute, in collaboration with the South Korean embassy here on Thursday.

Cho said the Malaysian government has described the first phase of the Look East Policy as quite successful.

Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad mooted the Look East Policy in 1982 which was originally aimed at Malaysia learning from Japan.

"In this case, east mainly means Japan and Korea to a lesser degree," said the ambassador who was previously posted to the United States, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Myanmar.

Cho also said that in terms of economy, South Korea's strength was more on manufacturing while Malaysia excelled in the services sector.

However, he pointed out that the Malaysian government was now emphasising on its Economic Transformation Programme.

South Korea, too, has something similar in the form of a three-year economic innovation programme from 2014 to 2016, which is called Creative Economy, he said.

As such, he noted that both countries were placing emphasis on innovation and transformation.

Cho also felt that combining Malaysia's quality manpower, strategic position towards Asean and the Islamic world with Korea's high-tech manufacturing and neighbouring markets like China and Japan, could be a good base in building economic partnership and cultivating relations.

Asked about people-to-people exchange, the envoy said it was a very important element for friendship and partnership in enhancing bilateral ties on a solid basis.

"We see that Malaysia also likes the Korean wave such as the Korean pop (K-Pop) song, drama, food and so on, and these are now contributing to the increase in people-to-people exchange," he said.

Another important element, Cho said was the increasing awareness in South Korea on the halal concept, as many Malaysians who visited the country have complained about difficulties in finding halal restaurants and appropriate places for worship.

"With that, the Korean government is now realising that they can be part of the (halal) facilities where tourists from Malaysia and other parts of the world can make use of them during their stay in South Korea," he said.